Neil Travis - Jul 16, 2012

Yesterday I was rearranging some of the books in my library when I happened upon an old letter, a printed list of fly patterns, and two black and white photographs. The letter was dated July 1970 and was from the Orvis ® Company. The letter was in reference to a copy of one of the black and white photographs which was an image of a young, dark haired man wearing a fly vest with a bamboo fly rod in one hand and a white meerschaum pipe in the other. Arranged in the foreground on a bed of Braken ferns were 4 respectable brown trout. The letter was an acknowledgement of my "Record Catch" and contained a round silver pin that still adorns my fishing hat and is inscribed – Orvis Record Catch Club.

Journal- the way we were

As I looked at the letter and the photograph it seemed like I was reading someone else's mail. Was that young man with all that dark hair really me, and if it was me where had he gone?

The interesting thing is that I still have the fly rod and the reel, and I might even have the pipe around somewhere, although I haven't smoked one in nearly 30 years. And I still have the pin, which I have worn on my old fishing hat, also from Orvis ®, since I received back in 1970.

Journal- the way we were

The other black and white image, taken somewhere around the same time, is of my old fishing partner Jim Birkholm, known to many of you as JC.

Journal- the way we were

In those days Jim and I were both pipe smokers, and it was part of our nightly ritual, as we sat on a log along the banks of the Michigan's Au Sable River tinkering with our tackle and waiting for the evening rise, to smoke our pipes. Jim liked to wear his western style hat, bolo tie [note that this one is made from a Michigan Petoskey Stone] and a Khaki colored Bush Jacket when he was fishing for trout, but I was more of a casual dresser preferring comfort to style.

Together we fished the waters of Michigan for 10 years and then we moved on to fish many of the streams and lakes of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

The years passed, we went our separate ways, Jim moved off to the coast of Washington and I remained in Montana. Looking back it's bitter and sweet to remember those days. The lyrics of a song from that same era when Jim and I were making our memories perhaps sum it up better than I can.

"Memories, like the corners of my mind. Misty water-colored memories of the way we were.

Scattered pictures of the smile we left behind, smiles we gave to one another for the way we were.
Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time re-written every line? If we had the chance to do it all again; tell me, would we? Could we?

Memories, may be beautiful and yet. What's too painful to remember we simply choose to forget.

So it's the laughter. We will remember.

Whenever we remember, the way we were."

Way We Were lyrics © EMI Music Publishing [1973]

Comment on this article

Archive of From a Journal By..

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice